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Mature Bordeaux

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

I’ve recently been reunited with eight cases of Bordeaux that have been kindly stored in a friend’s cold cellar in Gloucestershire for half a dozen years. Much of it is pretty decent Bordeaux that finally coming into bloom from the 2005 vintage. There are also some 2006s, 2003s and 2000s from what are often seen as ‘lesser’ properties but which have provided wonderfully enjoyable drinking. The question that I’ve been asking myself as I’ve been reacquainting myself with these wines six years on is whether my taste for Bordeaux has changed…

It is interesting how long it has taken many 2005s to come round amongst the wines that I’ve had cellared. 2005 is widely regarded as a fine vintage in the manner of 2000 and perhaps even 2010. The few properties I’ve bought from this vintage have taken longer than expected to mature and open up. That said Château La Lagune 2005 has always been rich and forward with plenty of extract and matter [it is their house style], so it was not surprise to see how nicely evolved that Haut-Médoc is now. It is glorious, showing signs of maturity, excellent depth and supple tannin.

La Lagune 2005 – brilliant

Château Talbot isn’t amongst the leading wines in St Julien in 2005, though it should be. It’s decent enough Bordeaux don’t get me wrong with nice blackcurrant characters and undergrowth notes on the nose. The wine is well-balanced on the palate with fine tannin. Still it remains modest for a property that reached such heights in the 1980s [with the 1982 and the 1986]. Perhaps it needs more time. I think I’d have been better to have opted for Château Gloria or Château St Pierre over Talbot as an en primeur purchase over a decade ago.

Talbot 2005 – fine but a little lacklustre?

Talking of 2006, Château Angludet is exquisite in this vintage. The prices have crept up here a little in recent years at this over-achieving Margaux property. It is run with soul by the talented Ben Sichel. It still looks to be worth every penny judging from what’s in the glass. Excellent wines were made recently in 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010 and 2009. I’ve been working my way through remnants of a case of their fabulous 2005. It has been on song for at least five years but this was the first bottle of the 2006 vintage I have opened up. This is inky and intense Margaux and as fresh as a daisy. It is drinking wonderfully now but appears to have life ahead of it. Excellent stuff.

Intense and vibrant Angludet 2006

Coincidentally, filmmaking friend and fellow wine nut Tom Roberts opened up a bottle of the 1999 over New Year. What a beauty! It goes to show just how well Angludet does year in, year out. 1999 as a vintage has always sat in the shade of 2000, being a little rain affected and somewhat overlooked. This was beautifully mature Margaux with finesse and length, showing no signs of fatigue. Lovely stuff. Of course Angludet is hardly and insiders tip anymore but these bottles tasted recently reconfirmed just what good value it provides the Bordeaux lover, even it it has now crept up to the £25 a bottle mark en primeur, and £40-50 for older bottles.

Angludet 1999 – a revelation

Now to the supposedly lesser Bordeaux. Well anyone still hanging on to 2005 Château Tour St Bonnet have very good Médoc on their hands. Tasted blind I’d have been in Pauillac with this one. Lots of freshness again, but fine blackcurrant fruit with an inky note, and lots of flesh on the palate. Tour St Bonnet is seriously good value Médoc and can still be picked up for £80 a case en primeur in most recent vintages. A single bottle of 2000 St Bonnet wasn’t quite in the same league. It was just starting to fade a little but went perfectly well with the roast lamb it was served with. This property has really good terroir in St Christoly de Médoc and relies on the quality of the fruit with no oak adornments.

Tour St Bonnet 2005 – almost Pauillac-like

I bought two cases of Haut-Médoc Château Charmail 2003 en primeur and drank the first case when it was young. This wasn’t at all as impressive as the 2000, [which was knockout] or the subsequent darling duo of 2009 and 2010 [both of which I’ve been working my way through]. The 2003 had body and weight but lacked complexity. At the time I put down the slightly underwhelming quality of the 2003 vintage, which when all is said and done, has been a bit of a disappointment. Despite the early hype, this heat wave year produced a great number of misfires, wines often hollow and lacking in aromatic interest. Still Charmail, situated in St Seurin-de-Cadourne, territory contiguous with St Estèphe, arguably had excellent terroir to deal with the vagaries of this atypical vintage.

Heady, rich 2003 Charmail

Fast forward 15 years and Château Charmail 2003 is alive and surprisingly well. It still has the generosity it expressed at the beginning of the decade but it has developed some complexity. This is an inky Haut-Médoc with plenty of menthol, dried herb notes and a little toffee and liquorice now creeping in. The fruit is there alongside some time-softened tannin. Tasted alongside the 2003 was a remaining bottle from a case of Charmail 2004. This wine had the upper hand with the ’03 early on. It had fresher aromatics and more life, but at fourteen years of age the aroma has lost its buzz and ’03 has pipped it to the post today.

A case I wish I’d got to earlier is Château La Tour de By 2005. This was a vigorous and enjoyable Médoc in its youth but I think it’s not got any better with age. The fruit has dipped and while there is plenty of structure and matter in this wine I can’t help thinking this was more fun at five when the fruit was at its apogee than now when it is just turning thirteen and feeling a little fatigued.

Delicious Fourcas-Dupré 2005

I’ve been a fan of the wines of Listrac for years and have had much enjoyment out of both of the appellation’s leading lights, Château Fourcas Dupré and Château Fourcas Hosten. I had 2000 from both properties in the holidays. Both have matured well, though there was more warmth and pleasure in Fourcas Dupré than Fourcas Hosten. Hosten is always the leaner in my tastings, perhaps the technically finer but the fractionally less enjoyable of the two. The 2005 Fourcas Dupré is on great form at the moment. Anyone with some of this cellared is in for a treat. Blackcurrant fruit, spice and pain grillé tones make for complex aromatics and there is plenty of bold fruit on the palate with fine tannins. This wine has the capacity to age but I don’t think it will deliver any more pleasure than it does now.

One of the most impressive bottles tasted in the last month was a bottle of 2009 La Croix de Beaucaillou shared by Bordeaux wine lover John Willis. This was looking terrific. La Croix is the second wine of Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, one of the three greatest stars of St Julien [Léoville-Las-Cases and Léoville Poyferré being the other too]. La Croix offers a glimpse of the pleasures to be had in the grand vin. Ducru 2009 itself was voted the world’s best red Cabernet blend by the Wine Spectator if I recall correctly.

Looking back at the wines I have cellared and in tasting them across the past month I’m wondering if I really now prefer Bordeaux in its youth, in its first decade at least. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the complex flavours that Bordeaux achieves in old age, but not all of it is meant to make old bones. Given modern winemaking methods and approaches to viticulture, even top market Bordeaux is much rounder and more supple its youth than those made decades ago, and even in the noughties. Certainly the experience of tasting the Croix de Beaucaillou made me think I ought to start tucking into my 2009s with gusto.

Next up up some errant notes on 2016 Médocs and from Moulis and Listrac that I didn’t have time to post last year. In the meantime, I hope you find the brief notes below useful…

Château d’Angludet, Margaux, 2016

Deeply coloured; inky and intense; concentrated blackcurrant notes and spicy tones; quite pent up but opens nicely in the glass; fine and well balanced Margaux with plenty of flesh; not far off the 2005 in quality I’d say. Real concentration here. Drink now-2026. 90+

Château d’Angludet, Margaux, 1999

Deep; more red at edge; mature aromatics but with complexity; grew in the glass; round and harmonious palate with no trace of fatigue. Long finish. A beauty. Note to self – keep buying this wine, year in, year out, as it rarely disappoints. Drink now-2020. 90

Château Charmail, Haut-Médoc, 2003

Deeply coloured; glossy red black; lifted and warm; spices, inky blackcurrant notes; toffee and liquorice; has the warm roasted characters of the 2003 heatwave vintage; plenty of ripeness makes for a soft palate but there is sufficient freshness and structure here and the wine show no signs of fatigue – if anything it has gained some complexity. Tannins are nicely softened. Drink now-2020. 87

Château Charmail, Haut-Médoc, 2004

Mid red; dusty Haut-Médoc characters; texture and grip on the palate but the fruit has faded. Was better a decade ago in its youth. Drink up. 84

Château Fourcas-Dupré, Listrac, 2005

Deeply coloured; jam packed with meaty fruit on the nose; blackcurrant; some savoury tones and nice pain grillé notes from the oak; very satisfying mouthful on the palate; a wine with plenty of matter and generosity; drinking perfectly now. Excellent wine. Flavoursome. Drink now-2025. 90+

Château Fourcas-Dupré, Listrac, 2000

Red; mature aromatics; some black fruits and tobacco; solid palate which is holding together nicely though the wine dipped after half-an hour. Drink now. 87

Château Fourcas-Hosten, Listrac, 2000

Red; dusty; some black fruits and roast meats; elegant palate with some finesse and structure; little drying on the mid palate however; the wines from this property are ambitious but tend towards the leaner end of the spectrum. Drink now. 86

Château La Lagune, Grand Cru Classé, Haut-Médoc 2005

Deeply coloured; wonderful aromatics; black fruits; plums; spices; tobacco notes; textured palate with depth and layers; this is a very attractive and plump wine. Great stuff. Drink now – 2025. 94+

Château Talbot, Grand Cru Classé, St Julien, 2005

Mid depth; reticent at first; some blackcurrant tones; some spices; fine Bordeaux elegance but lacks some complexity and depth; palate well balanced with rounded tannins just lacks excitement for the vintage [and property]. See if this develops any further complexity. Drink now-2025. 89

Château La Tour de By, Médoc, 2005

Mid depth; dusty aromatics; some roast meat characters; palate round with some structure and softened tannins. Had much more joy in its youth [and I rated it more highly]. Poor storage? Drink up. 83

Château Tour St Bonnet, Médoc, 2005

Mid depth; blackcurrant aromatics; very fresh and enticing; almost Pauillac-like; some earthy notes; plenty of flesh here; very satisfying wine that is drinking well. Good value Medoc. Drink now – 2020. 88

Château Tour St Bonnet, Médoc, 2000

Mid depth; red at edge; lighter than the 2005 and less weighty; some dusty characters; little herbal, tomato plant note; medium bodied; fully mature. Drink up. 85

La Croix de Beaucaillou, St Julien, 2009

Deep and saturated looking; opened up wonderfully; saturated with blackcurrant cassis aromatics; deep and lots of layers to this; feeling that it is just starting to limber up; plenty of structure beneath the considerable layers of fruit. Beautiful wine. Drink this over the next 5. Drink now-2023. 94+

Fourcas Hosten 2000


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